McDermott: Rhinos in the mood
Leeds are in the mood to successfully defend their Super League crown, coach Brian McDermott has warned.
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The Rhinos, who finished fifth in the table for the second successive season, stepped up their efforts to return to Old Trafford with a thrilling 27-20 victory over Catalan Dragons in Perpignan on Friday night and will meet Wigan or St Helens next weekend for a place in the Grand Final.
Table-topping Wigan will on Sunday select their opponents under the controversial ClubCall system and McDermott, whose side were chosen by Warrington in last year's semi-finals, insists they will fear no-one after Friday night's epic victory.
"At this stage I'm not really bothered," McDermott told Rhinos TV. "When we are willing to work and display the determination we showed (on Friday night), pretty much anything is achievable.
"I'm immensely proud of the players. That was just a show of sheer determination, guts and courage and effort. It was lots of hard work that got us the result.
"Either option next week is going to be a tough game. We've got to keep control of this. This is a big win but all it is does is take us to the next round of the play-offs, we haven't won anything."
The Leeds team arrived back in their chartered plane in the early hours of on Saturday morning and one of McDermott's first jobs will be to watch a replay of Danny McGuire's crucial spectacular try that effectively sealed the victory.
The stand-off, who last week became the all-time leading scorer in Super League, touched down for his 201st try on 64 minutes after a 50-metre break by prop forward Ryan Bailey but McDermott admits he completely missed the build-up.
"I didn't see it," he said. "I was bending down for something and I had to ask Jimmy (Lowes) over the radio what had gone on.
"Bailey is freakish. He has the ability to do that, he can run for fun. I can't wait to see the replay. If that doesn't make try of the season, I'm not sure what will."
Friday night's defeat brought the Catalans' season, along with the tenure of coach Trent Robinson, to an abrupt end despite the efforts of two-try winger Damien Blanch.
Blanch picked off a McGuire pass on the stroke of half-time for his first score, a 90-metre opportunist effort that brought his side right back into contention after they had trailed 12-4.
It looked to be a major blow at the time McDermott believes the score actually galvanised his side's efforts.
"We could have come in with a few more points in front and the intercept try did deflate us a little bit but it worked for us," he said.
"After such a hard-fought battle, with an eight-point cushion we may have become over-relaxed and over-confident but we came in twitchy.
"They were breathing down our necks and it became a contest and it continued to be a contest. It probably helped us with motivation at half-time."
The champions will be boosted next week by the return of prop Kylie Leuluai, who missed last night's game because of suspension, but they will be sweating over the availability of McGuire, who was put on report by referee Ben Thaler for a high tackle on second rower Louis Anderson.
The incident will be scrutinised by the Rugby Football League's match-review panel on Monday before deciding whether to charge McGuire with any offence.